Even though there’s still snow on the ground here (and much more elsewhere!), it’s not too early to think about starting a spring garden.
Last year, my kids and I built a Square Foot Garden and did some experimenting. I learned a lot about what to do differently this year, but we still had great success with tomatoes and other vegetables. It was such a treat to just go out and pick what we needed for salad instead of having to buy it at the store!
If you’re considering growing your own food, the small space needed for a SFG is a great motivator. I spent about $100 on the materials for a 16-square box, and others have done it for even less because they used scrap wood and found less expensive start-up organic soil. The up side to the initial investment, though, is that the soil never needs to be replaced; I just add some new compost this year when I plant my seedlings.
Here’s what I will do differently this time around:
- I didn’t fully utilize each square for all three seasons—spring, summer, and fall—because it was new to me, but this year I can. There's a planning grid in the Square Foot Gardening book that tells you which plants do best for each season. I'm also getting started earlier in the year.
- I plan to start more seedlings indoors. Some of the seeds we directly planted last year didn't grow or were eaten by critters. I want to have more seedlings ready to go that have had a headstart. The kids also enjoyed being involved with the indoor planting because they saw progress quickly.
- Lettuce didn’t do well for me, but I think it was because it was such a dry season and I didn’t pick it early enough. I’ll follow the advice in the book more closely and snip around the edges, constantly picking while it grows, and I'll try to control the moisture level to match the weather.
- I'll plant more of the vegetables that grew well, like the cucumbers and tomatoes. We really enjoyed them!
If you're new to growing your own food, I highly recommend Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening. I picked it up at the library and then decided to buy my own copy. You really don't need much space at all, and he walks you step-by-step through how to get started. All of last year's posts about the beginner Square Foot Garden can be found through the SFG tag (then scroll down). I look forward to sharing more success with you this year!